The new year post on plastic legions (link) started off by rueing the state of the blog. Social media has swallowed a lot of the vitality from the blogosphere and old style forum. The comment section on that post is quite interesting (go read it, I'll wait).
It's quite obvious that other the last few years there has been a steady fall off in blog activity. Non updated blogs, viewership numbers dropping, much less comments. It feels like like the pic to the right, there are people around but just not many, and not right here.
On the other hand, I look at how vibrant the oldhammer community is (both with rogue trader style items, as well as fantasy). I believe that this issue comes down to community. Humans are social animals, and we wish to make connection with others. On the interwebz, specifically within blogs, that ends up coming through comments. I assume that you move onto greater things where you start creating group projects and mailing each other minis at some point, but that's like shangri la to me.
One of the problems of social media is that you post pictures instead of tell tales. There is a need for a balance between concise writing and enough photos: we've all seen bad examples of posts of solid text [like this one] but social media falls on the other extreme. You don't make connection with a well painted mini, you make connection by hearing about painting struggles, reading paint recipes, appreciating plans for the future, or steps in the conversion.
Another problem is that it's too easy to lurk in social media. You can like on a like button instead of commenting. It makes us lazy. Too lazy to exercise our ability to comment. I expect that readership numbers on most blogs are far, FAR higher than comments, even taking into account bots. We expect to have a stream of entertainment sleet through us without us needing to make effort to engage it.
Social media isn't just killing the blogs by leaching their traffic, they are killing them by making us entertainment zombies. Our hobbies are about doing stuff. If you can't manage to do stuff yourself, don't you owe a debt to those who do by commenting on their work/effort?
I think my favorite part of the hobby challenge I did in the past (6MMRPC) was the regulars you saw churning out work and who would comment on your own efforts. One of the key features in my mind was about requiring regular posts (weekly). I would personally have added a requirement to comment on at least two other peoples posts. I haven't seen much in the way of (painting) challenges lately (except, again, with the oldhammerers).
Maybe some sort of challenge that is more about (re)building the blog community is needed? It may be time to explicitly state that as a goal with painting tagged on, rather than the other way.
I, personally, have resolved this year to engage more with the blogs I read, and try and comment on every post I read. It is but a fraction of the time and effort the authors put into them.